My dad and I put the finishing touches on my new DIY compost tumbler this week, and the system is now “officially” up and running. My first batch of waste materials consists of an assortment of stuff I just happened to have available – weeds, wet cardboard drink trays, coffee filters (with some coffee mixed in), and a bag of food waste (that came from my freezer). It certainly isn’t what I’d call an “optimized” batch (as the whole apple in the picture demonstrates quite effectively – haha), but I really wanted to get things rolling (yuk, yuk!) in terms of testing this puppy out!
As promised in one of my comments on the last tumbler post (see Compost Tumbler Vermicomposting), I do want to share a bit more background info about this compost tumbler project (how it came to be in the first place etc), and let you know where I am taking things from here.
In all honesty, it’s only been within the last few years (max) that I’ve had any real interest in compost tumblers at all! I’ve always thought of them as over-hyped, overly-expensive systems that probably don’t even live up to their promises etc. The fact that my main interest has always been vermicomposting likely played a role as well – since, as mentioned in previous posts, these systems aren’t ideally suited for effective vermicomposting (if used in the way they are intended to be used).
My opinion did gradually change, however, once I started coming across some of the nifty DIY tumblers people had made for themselves and posted videos about on YouTube. It looked as though compost tumbling might indeed be within reach for the average person who, surprise surprise, didn’t feel like shelling out hundreds of dollars! I also started to see some of the potential for using a tumbler as a sort of “food preparation system” (or “pre-composting” system if you prefer) prior to adding the materials to one’s worm bins/beds.
Nevertheless, actually tackling a DIY tumbler project still seemed out of reach for me given my fairly limited building skills – so I just ended up thinking of it as a potential “some day” endeavor.
All this changed when I received an email from a gentleman named Bob O’Donnell (back in February), asking if I might have an interest in some form of collaboration. Bob, a retired restaurant manager living in southern New Hampshire, has been quietly (but successfully) selling a set of compost tumbler building instructions – created based on the tumbler he built more than 20 years ago and has been using ever since – for quite some time. He happened to stumble across my Compost Guy website, and the rest is history.
Bob was kind enough to send me a copy of his guide, and I decided almost immediately that the first thing to do was to see if this was even the sort of project a DIY-clutz like myself (with help from a slightly more DIY- comfortable dad, mind you) could complete successfully. Given Bob’s friendly, conversational writing style and his easy-to-follow instructions I was fairly optimistic!
We did end up veering off from the original design in a number of ways, but I’m still confident that Bob’s system is something a lot of people (including non-DIYers like myself) could build without too much trouble. As for this potential “collaboration” mentioned earlier – based on our success (building the tumbler), I thought it would be cool to put together a small video series and bundle it with Bob’s original guide. As you might imagine, this isn’t something I can just offer for free – but I’m happy to report that everything (including all future updates etc) will be available for less than $15.
I really enjoyed Bob’s guide on its own (and he tells me he’s had zero refunds the entire time he’s been selling it), and his design has certainly stood the test of time – but I also think that sharing my own perspective (as a vermicomposter, non-DIY guy etc) and experiences from our tumbler project will help to make this an even more valuable resource.
Anyway – just wanted to provide people with a “heads-up” about all this! Hoping to have the initial package (will definitely be adding more over time) available quite soon – will share more details once it is ready to roll.